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Buy-to-let Watch: There are two sides to every story

Black and white news coverage often fails to deliver useful information

We know that news is often reported differently depending on which publication is covering it. One need only look to political reporting to see that. However, sometimes it astounds me that two almost polar opposite stories can run at the same time. It is something we see a lot of in buy-to-let and it has certainly been something I have noticed frequently of late.

By way of explanation, please join me in a little experiment: type the word “landlords” into Google and scan the news articles that come back. 

As I write this, there are two stories just published simultaneously which paint very different pictures of buy-to-let. One claims landlords are abandoning the market in their droves, while the second says they are feeling optimistic about the market going forward. 

How can these two points be true at the same time? If landlords are feeling optimistic why are they leaving the market? If landlords are giving up their investment properties amid countless challenges, why are they feeling optimistic? The answer, of course, is that it is all about perception. If we delve deeper into the figures behind these two stories, this becomes clear.

Landlords are “abandoning the market” because buy-to-let lending in June was down 19 per cent on the previous year. Clearly, this is a significant drop but we can interpret it differently depending on what spin we put on it. Given the huge amount of change the sector has witnessed in recent years, perhaps the piece could focus on the fact a huge number of landlords are still taking out buy-to-let mortgages, demonstrating their resilience and commitment to the market?

And to show I am not taking a biased approach here, the same can be said for the positive story I mentioned above. The figures from estate and lettings agency Your Move found 52 per cent of landlords were optimistic. But the fact 30 per cent feel indifferent and 16 per cent have a negative outlook is also quite significant.

You see, stories can paint very different pictures depending on how they are told. Rather than constant reporting on whether landlords are packing up and leaving or whether they are feeling super-positive and happy, why don’t we focus more on how most property investors are responding to the changes, what solutions there are for would-be buyers in the market, and how we can tackle the housing crisis without simply launching an assault on the rental market and hoping for the best? I would
certainly find such topics more interesting to read.

Ying Tan is managing director of the Buy to Let Club

Buy-to-let rates

Rate MAX LTV % Description Arrangement Fee Rent Cover ERC
1.39% 60% TSB 2 year fixed £500k max. loan £1,995 £250 cash back 145% @ 5.5% 2% in Yr 1 1% in Yr 2
1.54% 60% Leeds Building Society 2 year fixed £500k max. loan £1,999 Free valuation 140% @ 5.5% 3% in Yr 1 2% in Yr 2
1.69% 70% Skipton 2 year fixed £750k max. loan £1,995 Free valuation 125% @ 5% 2% in Yr 1 1% in Yr 2
2.09% 65% The Mortgage Works 5 year fixed £500k max. loan £1,995 125% @ 4.99% 6% in Yr 1 5% in Yr 2 4% in Yr 3 3% in Yr 4 2% in Yr 5
2.39% 70% Post Office 5 year fixed £500k max. loan £995 145% @ 5% 4% in Yr 1 4% in Yr 2 3% in Yr 3 3% in Yr 4 2% in Yr 5

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